Covid-19: WHO confirms Eris strain as a 'variant of interest' and it could cause the next wave

WHO fears that the new Eris Covid-19 strain could drive a new wave of infections as it declares it ‘a variant of interest’ amid rising cases. Here is how worried we should be.

Covid-19: WHO confirms Eris strain as a 'variant of interest', could cause the next wave
© Photo: Ketut Subiyanto on
Covid-19: WHO confirms Eris strain as a 'variant of interest', could cause the next wave

As health experts around the world fear another devastating pandemic, they are trying to avoid the mistake many governments made back in 2019 when the risks related to Covid-19 were underestimated.

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As the new Eris strain is on the rise and driving new cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) rushed to declare it a ‘variant of interest’ and warned people to take all the necessary precautions set during the pandemic in the last years.

Here is how worried we should be.

Meanwhile, British health authorities listed key symptoms of Eris. They also revealed the scale of its spread in the UK.

WHO declares Eris a ‘variant of interest: here is what it means

As cases of Eris rise globally, WHO took a precautionary decision to declare it as a ‘variant of interest’.

The UK, China and the US are among the countries that have already been affected by it.

Scientifically known as EG.5.1, it is related to an Omicron sub-variant called XBB.1.9.2.

Although the public health risk related to the new version is considered low, the experts warn against complacency as it may still drive a larger wave of infections.

Last week, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) released data that an estimated 15% of sequenced Covid-19 cases in England were due to the new strain.

Dr Meera Chand, the deputy director of UKHSA, said:

EG.5.1 was designated as a variant on 31 July 2023 due to continued growth internationally and presence in the UK, allowing us to monitor it through our routine surveillance processes.

She believes that the vaccination ‘remains our best defence against future Covid-19 waves’.

The WHO recommended its members focusing on a better understanding of antibody escape and severity of Eris and to monitor for changes in indicators of severity.

Read more:

Covid-19: As Eris variant is on the rise, doctors reveal the main symptoms to watch for

New Covid-19 'Eris' variant is spreading amongst Brits, here is how worried you should be

Here is how Eris differs from other Covid-19 variants

According to WHO, Eris has shown ‘increased prevalence, growth advantage, and immune escape properties’ but ‘no reported changes in disease severity’.

Christina Pagel, professor of operational research at University College London, suggests ‘it will probably cause a wave of more cases’ but she doesn’t expect it to be worse than other strains.

She also warned that waning immunity may mean that the Eris wave could take longer to peak and hence could be larger.

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Sources used:

- The Guardian: 'WHO declares ‘Eris’ Covid strain a variant of interest as cases rise globally'

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